I am dedicating this months article to explaining how Chinese Medicine views the common complaints of Insomnia, Depression and Anxiety. I have noted in my practice that the therapeutic affect of Acupuncture and Herbal Formulas is comparable to that of western pharmaceutical drugs when it comes to the above named complaints. Western Allopathic medicine usually treats these symptoms as separate diseases and tends to look at these as a condition of altered brain chemistry. Pharmaceutical drugs are then prescribed to alter the brain chemistry and create a “sense of normalcy.” Maybe you feel better, yes, but in my opinion this is a band-aid. It suppresses the root cause of your complaints but never gets to the healing of it. By the time a new client comes into my office, they have often been on pharmaceutical drugs to treat their symptoms, sometimes for over 20 years, and still feel terrible. That’s where Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) comes in. This medical theory understands insomnia, depression and anxiety as symptoms of imbalance.
First, the most important point to note is that each person is unique and should be treated for their specific signs and symptoms individually. If ten people of the same gender and age lined up in my office, all with the same complaint of anxiety, depression or insomnia, they would likely be treated differently. Acupuncture and herbal formulas would be individualized to match their specific signs and symptoms. For example, lets take Jane Smith. Jane is 40 years old and complains of anxiety. Upon further discussion she explains that her anxiety manifests as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, short term memory loss and an inability to get a good night’s sleep. Jane’s tongue is a deep red color with thin white coating, and the red color is more prominent on the tip of the tongue. Her pulse is rapid. Jane’s anxiety is caused by what Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to as Deficiency Heat. The tip of her tongue being redder than the rest of the body of the tongue indicates a situation of emotions affecting the heart and causing upset.
A second client comes in, Joe Johnson. Joe is 30 years old and complains of anxiety and the inability to lose weight. He is lethargic, and although he is overweight, his appetite is low and he has loose stools most of the time. Joe’s tongue is pale white, with a thick white coating and teethmarks on both sides. His pulse is slightly rapid but is submerged (which means I have to press harder to feel the pulse), and it is rolling. His anxiety is caused by excess damp in the body with Spleen Qi deficiency causing loose stools. As you can begin to see, both patients were complaining of anxiety, but when you look a bit deeper you see that the treatment for each would greatly differ. Different meridians are indicated for treatment and herbal formulas prescribed and modified to fit their needs.
TCM recognizes that there are seven different emotions that enter the body and first affect a specific meridian or organ. These seven emotions are anger, joy, fear, worry, grief, fright and sadness. Anger affects the liver, joy the heart, fear the kidneys, worry the spleen/stomach, grief and sadness the lungs, and fright the gallbladder. Depression can be described as stagnant energy in the body. Stagnation causes imbalances and leads to not only emotional pain, but to physical pain as well. One good example of this is the western diagnosis of , which usually goes hand in hand with emotional disturbances. Once stagnation occurs, it can present in the body with some of the following symptoms: anger, fatigue, inability to fully concentrate, sadness and a feeling of overall deficiency.
How is this treated with TCM? Good question! Acupuncture allows Qi to flow in the body much more efficiently, thus balancing that which has become out of balance and allowing the body to re-center in a healthy and healing way. After the first treatment you may find that you have the best night’s sleep you’ve had in a long time. This is what is reported often after a client’s first session. It’s almost a given! Through a course of treatments you may find that you can better manage your stress, have more balanced emotions, feel inspired, and even feel your physical body pain lessen. As the emotions heal, the physical pain begins to heal too. TCM treatments are unique to each person, and may actually be “adjusted” with each subsequent visit. As the body changes, so do the treatments.
Located in Palomino Park, off of 441 in Wellington Florida, Holistic Health Palm Beach is an excellent place to begin your journey to the best health and wellness you can achieve. Free first time client phone consultations are being offered, and an excellent listening ear and relaxing atmosphere will greet you as part of your experience each time you come in!
Caroline Blanke-Peña, L.Ac, Dipl.OM
Traditional Chinese Medicine Physician
Holistic Health Palm Beach, Inc.
Acupuncture-Herbal Medicine-Injection Therapy
3347 S. State Road 7, Suite 200
Wellington, Florida 33449